NCS Final Four Football – A Preview

Antioch junior Najee Harris will play his college ball at Alabama, but first he'd like a shot at De La Salle in the NCS Championship. (Doug Duran)

By Connor Buestad |

Thanksgiving has arrived and with it comes copious amounts of food and football to consume over the next few days. Starting with your backyard game with Uncle Larry, to the Cam Newton Show in Dallas, to rivalry week in the college ranks, this long weekend is about as close as one gets to a pigskin paradise.

Fortunately for Bay Area football junkies, there will be more to talk about over your Turkey Day spread than the Raiders three game losing streak or CAL’s disappointing second half of the season in Berkeley. Instead, feel free to read below and get up to speed on the high school football scene. The North Coast Section playoffs are in full swing, with teams all over the area providing enticing final four matchups both tomorrow and Saturday at a field near you.   

Oakland Section Playoffs -- Silver Bowl Championship No. 1 McClymonds (11-0) vs. No. 2 Fremont (6-5) 3pm Friday at Laney College

Well let’s call an audible from the jump here and discuss a game that is neither a final four tilt, nor an NCS game. Instead, it’s the Silver Bowl, which crowns the champion of the Oakland Athletic League. These OAL teams don’t participate in the traditional NCS bracket, but the winner will likely earn a spot in the state championship bracket that culminates at Sacramento State this year.

As one can imagine, the Silver Bowl has quite the rich history. A game that traditionally was played at the Oakland Coliseum saw the likes of Marshawn Lynch enjoy coming out parties in front of East Bay faithful. Today, some argue that OAL football has lost a step, and the Silver Bowl now is played in more humble digs at Laney College, north of the Coliseum.

Mack comes into this game riding an impressive five game Silver Bowl winning streak, so the safe money is certainly on the Warriors in this one. That said, Mack only beat Fremont 7-0 earlier this season, so an upset isn't out of the question.

McClymonds has been no stranger to controversy over the last two seasons. Last year, Danville native Kevin Davidson decided to commute to West Oakland to play for Mack, where he put up staggering numbers and earned a scholarship to UC Davis. It wasn’t long, however, that he was ruled ineligible due to zoning issues and had to return to San Ramon Valley for his senior season.

This year, Mack assistant coach De’Carlos Anderson was filmed on a team bus getting into a heated altercation with a player. Even still, head coach Michael Peters has guided his team to a perfect record in 2015 and they seem poised for their sixth Silver Bowl victory. 

NCS Playoffs Division 1 Semifinal: No. 4 Pittsburgh (10-2) at No. 1 De La Salle (10-1) 7pm Friday in Concord

So now to the North Coast Section and who better to start with than De La Salle? The Spartans began the year ranked number 1 in the entire nation, only to lose their first game. Granted, it was on the road in Texas versus powerhouse Trinity, but De La certainly doesn’t accept any kind of losing. Young coach Justin Alumbaugh quickly circled the wagons and the Spartans easily reeled off 10 impressive wins in a row, including a 52-6 drubbing of Long Beach Poly, a team dripping with D1 and even NFL prospects.

On the other side of the ball is Pittsburg, a team all too accustomed to the top-to-bottom strength of De La Salle. This would be a monumental upset for Pitt to pull off, especially considering their losses to Monte Viste and Antioch already this year. If Pittsburgh expects to have a chance, running back Montaz Thompson and wideout Jordan Parker must have career days in Concord.

NCS Playoffs Division 1 Semifinal: No. 3 Foothill (11-0) at No. 2 Antioch (11-0) 7pm Saturday at Antioch HS

On the other side of the Division 1 bracket, we have a very enticing matchup of two 11-0 teams in Foothill and Antioch.

The player to watch in this one is Antioch’s junior running back Najee Harris, owner of 33 touchdowns already this year. Just like current Alabama Crimson Tide star Derrick Henry, the gifted Antioch running back also wears number 2 and lets dreads flow out the back of his helmet. At 6’2” – 222lbs, Harris is a can’t-miss back that seamlessly mixes speed and power. Surely, it would be a treat to see him face off with De La Salle’s heralded defense in the D1 NCS final.

NCS Playoffs Division 2 Semifinal: No. 3 Concord (8-4) at No. 2 Miramonte (11-1) 7pm Saturday in Orinda

Jack Schram’s Miramonte Matadors have put together an impressive 11-1 season, their only blemish coming to defending state champion Campolindo. Traditionally speaking, the Mats wouldn’t think twice about beating Concord, but this is not your father’s Minutemen. Concord has been red-hot as of late, with Harold Tidwell leading the way from the running back position. In three of their last four games, the Minutemen have managed to put up 50 points or more. It will be up to Miramonte’s Tim Tague (QB) and Clayton Stehr (RB) to keep the Concord offense off the field.

NCS Playoffs Division 2 Semifinal: No. 4 Granada (6-6) at No. 1 Clayton Valley Charter (10-1) 7pm Friday at Clayton Valley

The Clayton Valley Ugly Eagles lost in the State Championship game last year at the StubHub Center and are eager to get back. Their offense has been bit by the injury bug, but a strong defense should propel them past a six loss Granada team.

NCS Playoffs Division 3 Semifinal: No. 4 Bishop O’ Dowd (7-5) at No. 1 Campolindo (11-1) 7pm Friday in Moraga

Campolindo’s dramatic, come-from-behind victory in last year’s State Title game over El Capitan will go down as one of the best amateur football games in Bay Area history. Just ask 49ers veteran beat writer Matt Maiocco, who watched the heroics from the bowels of Levi’s Stadium.

Kevin Macy has a hungry team back for another championship run in 2015, their only loss coming on the road at Napa 21-14. Their next test will be the Dragons of O’ Dowd, the private school in Oakland more known for their basketball program as of late. Jacob Westphal leads the Campo offense under center, flanked by junior running backs Matt Ringquist and Nikki Moore. The Cougar defense is anchored by Jack Cassiday and Devin Regan. The winner of this one will meet either Analy (Sebastapol) or Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) in the NCS D3 final.

NCS Playoffs Division 4 Semifinal: No. 4 Moreau Catholic (11-1) at No. 1 Marin Catholic (10-1) 1pm Saturday in Kentfield

Even with the success of NFL prospect Jared Goff, the Wildcats of Marin Catholic are still keeping it old school and playing afternoon playoff games in Kentfield. Even without Friday night lights, Marin Catholic continues to churn out great quarterbacks. Their current QB is Darius Peterson, who unlike Goff, is just as comfortable running the ball as he is sitting in the pocket. Just like O’ Dowd, Moreau is more known for their basketball prowess, but running back Jullen Ison’s six TD’s in last weekend’s playoff game has the Mariners thinking ‘Ship. The winner of this one will face Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) or Fortuna in the D4 Final.


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